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“Engage the butt!”

Huh? Did she just say BUTT? This is just one of the many tidbits of advice that was given to new and continuing Fairfield University tour ambassadors who volunteer at least one hour a week out of their busy schedules to show prospective students Fairfield’s eye-catching campus.

Tour guide supervisor and Fairfield University alumni Ally Montany explained to the group ambassadors that “engaging the butt” or allowing the visitors to sit down during the touring process will change their perspective leading them to re-focus their attention on you.

Montany, who describes herself as a “cheerleader” to her ambassadors, decided to re-vamp the tour program with her own personal style. “We have seen that the guests don’t remember the statistics, like a 12:1 student to faculty ratio, as much as they remember the stories the ambassador tells after they tell the statistic,” she said.

As tour ambassadors came back for another year with the good-old Stags they all were required to take part in a two-part training, whether a veteran to the program or a newbie. Part one consisted of motivational speaker from TargetX, a college consulting company. The speaker gave a lively, interactive presentation to ambassadors, encouraging them to make their tour an experience rather than simply a tour packed full of statistics.

What inspired the decision to alter the program? Montany explained, “Everybody who had the program before did a great job running it. We all have different styles, though, and I decided to bring my own style to it.”

The second training, led by Montany, brought tour ambassadors on the new tour route, where Montany stopped at each tour location and put each ambassador on the spot by saying, “Hey, Bob, tell me a personal memory that you have about Barone Campus Center.”

Stories, stories, and more stories!

Montany provided a few examples. You could share the time when your Spanish professor assisted in helping you recover from the “culture shock” after going abroad by treating you to a Spanish meal in downtown Fairfield. You could also share the time your favorite professor kicked you out of class for wearing, that ever so ugly, pair of UGG boots; UGGS are evidently not allowed in his classroom (all you communication majors know who I’m talking about!)

Perkowski describes his touring technique, “I try to show them that college is more than simply books and partying but a true educational and growing experience that more prospective students should be able to relate to.”

Fairfield is not the only university renovating its program. According to an article by Rebecca Kern for US News, eight schools have added additional tours that do not involve walking. Kern reported that Alfred University in Alfred, NY, now offers a unique biking tour involving a constructed bike that holds seven visitors, aligning them in circle formation (adding to the interactive experience), with pedals at their feet to contribute to the movement of the tour bike.  Kern also found universities offering boat tours, golf tours, and self-guided tours via GPS or iPhone application.

Fairfield Admissions plans on having a competition to form a memory in the visitor’s mind and even reward an outstanding ambassador.

A competition for who can take the most creative picture with Fairfield’s prized Stag statue will now be included in each tour. The winner will receive some form of prize.

With these small, but key changes, will admission tours increase in positive outcomes? Greg Jensen ‘12, tour ambassador manager, thinks yes. “They’re taking an already great program and making it an exceptional one. They’re really allowing each tour group to get to know the tour guide and Fairfield in a different light.”

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